There is no one side fits all strategy to Social Media, but ignore it at your risk. There are several major platforms and a plethora of minor platforms, but for small business brands and political brands, there are a few to focus on. Thank you to Pew Research for putting these facts together.
YouTube, by reputation, is that of a video streaming service, but the YouTube.com site is a much broader social platform. Comments, discussions, sharing, and thumb up/thumb down scores all contribute to the YouTube experience. Sure you can embed a YouTube video on your website without using those functions, but YouTube.com is now the second largest search engine (after Google.com), and Google Video searches rely heavily on YouTube. A strong YouTube presence, including the social components of commenting on related videos and replying to comments, is very important. As of January 2018, 73% of Adults use YouTube.
The largest of the pure Social Platforms, 68% of Americans have Facebook Accounts. Only Facebook knows what percentage of them are regular and active users, but Pew pegs it at 74% of American Facebook users use it at least once a day. That’s self reported, so take it with a grain of salt, but Facebook may be the easiest and most direct way to reach people. It is not sufficient to have a Page that you share content to. Links to your website, with proper boosts, and audience building campaigns are critical to brands having the ability to engage with people that interest them.
Instagram, the Facebook property, is in third place with 35% of Americans having accounts, 60% of whom use it at least daily. That makes Instagram an important, but not as critical, part of your social media strategy. A simple Instagram account, with a regular picture and caption being added, with good hashtags, can go a long way towards building your brand. A serious effort to build followers and engage can have more serious results, but it depends on your brand. If your goal is to build deep relationships with users (premium luxury brands), Instagram should be front and center. If you need a more casual relationship with the bulk of the population (think politicians, Instagram can be more perfunctory).
Niche Platforms: Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter
These platforms, are relatively popular, all having a decent population, with dominance in their area, but lack a universal presence. The usage gap between these platforms and Instagram is only a few percentage points, but Instagram is rapidly growing and these niche platforms are relatively static in their user base. For completeness, Pinterest has 29% of Americans, Snapchat 27% of Americans, LinkedIn has 25%, and Twitter 24%. These aren’t small audiences, with large segments of the population in their niche.
Pinterest is very popular, but is demographic specific, being 81% female, and a median age of 40. The active pinners are younger and even more female, and among Millenials it equals Instagram. It has a strong advertising platform, and is very strong around lifestyle, hobbies, and brands. If you market your brands towards women under 50, Pinterest is a great addition to your platform. (OmniCore’s Pinterest Statistics)
Snapchat is popular, but niche. The advertising platform is immature, and it is challenging for non-celebrities to build a following here. Unless you are in fashion, music, or other youth targeted segments, it is probably more worthwhile to focus on other platforms. But if you are targeting college students and younger, SnapChat is essentials. (OmniCore’s Snapchat Statistics)
LinkedIn is a valuable, and expensive to market on. If your target audience are business professionals, it’s a critical platform. Sales Professionals live and die by LinkedIn. Gainfully employed people may only look at Linkedin when job hunting. If you are selling into corporate markets, LinkedIn needs to fit your platform. If you are marketing to consumers, LinkedIn is probably not going to generate an ROI.
Twitter is a super strange platform. It’s relatively small, but sometimes has an out-sized influence. It is popularly credited by the media with dominating the 2016 election, but there are so few people on it. It is more popular overseas, where the lower data needs and more free-flowing conversations avoid censors. Twitter is extremely possible with journalists, public relations firms, and celebrities. The ability to run the messaging from a cell phone makes it much flexible for those in the business of communicating with those industries. While Twitter shows Videos and Images, pure text messaging still works. If your business is looking to reach journalists, generate publicity, or communicate with customers in a free-wheeling fashion, Twitter should be part of your communications strategy. Twitter’s advertising tools are shockingly primitive, but it’s very powerful if you are trying to reach the demographics active there.